Police warn of phone scam

July 19, 2002|by KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

The Washington County Sheriff's Department is warning residents to be wary of a phone scam in which callers pretend to be the intended victim's relatives and then bilk them out of money.

The scam has been successful in several counties in Maryland, including Frederick, as well as in several other states, Sgt. Mark Knight said.

Authorities fear the scam artists may be making their way west and will find their way into Washington County, Knight said.


"It's been all over the country, so it's possible," Knight said.

Knight said the scam artists obtain marketing lists with vital statistics and target elderly women.

Knight said they call residents and pretend to be a relative. The scam artists engage the victim in conversation until the resident reveals the name of the relative they think they are talking to, he said.

At that point, the scam artists tell the victim that they are in trouble and need cash, which they will pay back the next day.

The scam artists convince them to go get the money, and they will send a friend to pick it up in a few minutes.

Once they have the money, the victim never hears from the scam artists again and they're hard to trace, Knight said.

Although many women have been targeted, anyone could be a potential victim, Knight said.

Knight advises people to ask who is calling immediately after answering the phone and not to reveal personal information about themselves over the phone.

If they get a suspicious call, they should notify police and not give money to any strangers, Knight said.

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